No one should have been surprised, in the aftermath of President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey, to see Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) rush to a podium and grab a microphone. And no one should have been surprised to see Schumer express alarm and outrage over the firing of someone he said he’d “lost confidence in” back in November.
Schumer’s babblings and bleatings were little different than countless other Washington Democrats, many of whom changed tunes from directly blaming Comey for Hillary Clinton losing the presidency to screaming about Comey’s firing in the space of less than an hour. It was an unmitigatedly shameful performance, and to neutral or hostile observers it highlighted just how philosophically and intellectually lost the Democratic Party and the American Left have become.
But it was Schumer who best personified this loss of credibility. Jim Stinson at Lifezette did an excellent job of punching holes through Schumer’s rhetorical staggerings…
Schumer held a press conference on Tuesday after President Donald Trump fired Comey, blasting the decision and telling reporters he earlier told Trump that he was making a mistake in firing Comey.
But a reporter immediately brought up a different opinion Schumer had of Comey last November.
“Sen. Schumer, you told me last year before the election that you last confidence in Jim Comey because of how he handled the email scandal,” one reporter said. “Do you think that the president’s explanation … has credibility?”
Schumer became a bit defensive.
“I never called on the president to fire Director Comey,” said Schumer.
Schumer then said Trump should have fired Comey earlier in his young presidency if he had some of the same concerns as Democrats.
It was a clever ploy. But it cannot hide the fact that Democrats have being hating on Comey for months. Many blame Comey for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton losing the election. Comey famously released a letter to Congress just before the Nov. 8 election indicating that he was re-opening an investigation into how Clinton handled classified emails.
Comey, being Comey, closed the new investigation in record time, ending the investigation two days before Election Day and enraging Republicans by publicly declaring he would still not recommend charges against Clinton.
Schumer indicated Comey’s handling of the matter was a deal-breaker.
“I do not have confidence in him any longer,” Schumer said of Comey, on Nov. 2.
Schumer called Comey’s letter to Congress “appalling.”
Comey’s firing was anything but a surprise, whether its timing or method may have been dramatic enough to stir Schumer and his compatriots into full publicity-whore mode. Virtually everyone in Washington has wanted the FBI director gone since July 5 of last year, when he bizarrely stood at a press conference of his own calling and ripped into Hillary Clinton for her clearly illegal mishandling of classified documents by using an unsecured private e-mail account on which to do business as Secretary of State… and then made the utterly indefensible claim that no reasonable prosecutor would pursue an indictment for that clear violation of the law.
At that time Comey was finished as a credible FBI director, a point brilliantly made in a memo by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein released to the public on Tuesday. As Rosenstein, a career federal prosecutor who has served with distinction under presidents both Republican and Democrat, noted, that press conference was without doubt a bridge too far…
The Director was wrong to usurp the Attorney General’s authority on July 5, 2016, and announce his conclusion that the case should be closed without prosecution. It is not the function of the Director to make such an announcement. At most, the Director should have said the FBI had completed its investigation and presented its findings to federal prosecutors. The Director now defends his decision by asserting that he believed Attorney General Loretta had a conflict. But the FBI Director is never empowered to supplant federal prosecutors and assume command of the Justice Department. There is a well-established process for other officials to step in when a conflict requires the recusal of the Attorney General. On July 5, however, the Director announced his own conclusions about the nation’s most sensitive criminal investigation, without the authorization of duly appointed Justice Department leaders.
Compounding the error, the Director ignored another longstanding principle: we do not hold press conferences to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation. Derogatory information sometimes is disclosed in the course of criminal investigations and prosecutions, but we never release it gratuitously. The Director laid out his version of the facts for the news media as if it were a closing argument, but without a trial. It is a textbook example of what federal prosecutors and agents are taught not to do.
Until about 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Chuck Schumer would have agreed with every word of Rosenstein’s memo. He said more or less as much leading up to Trump’s firing of Comey.
The fact is, James Comey’s tenure as FBI director came to a functional end the minute the word leaked that Loretta Lynch met with Bill Clinton on the tarmac at the Phoenix airport. Comey was left with no plausible way forward in his job as soon as that happened, as the number one most significant investigation his agency was conducting, namely that of Clinton’s emails, had been effectively closed down by the Attorney General.
What Comey should have done at the time was resign in protest. He could have done so and preserved his professional soul, and the resignation would have accomplished precisely the same mission — castigating Clinton for her conduct without initiating a prosecution for it (a prosecution that Lynch’s meeting with Bill Clinton made clear would not be forthcoming) — as his press conference. Comey wouldn’t have had to say a single word about Hillary Clinton; his resignation in a one-page letter citing Lynch’s ex parte meeting with Bill would have spoken more loudly than 2,000 words at the podium.
But his careerism got in the way of his professional soul, and as such there was no saving his future as FBI director. Had Clinton won the election there was no doubt Comey would be fired; Trump’s election was no different, as Tuesday’s events showed. And no, Comey was not fired because of The Russians; there is no credible scandal involving The Russians despite the fact Rachel Maddow may have spent more than half of her broadcast time in the months of February and March pushing such a scandal.
That Comey had to go, regardless of who was in the White House, was obvious to people on both sides of the aisle. If anything, Trump was too slow making it happen (and by the way, what in the hell is John Koskinen still doing in the IRS Building?).
But Schumer’s antics open a window into something else that ought to be obvious to all, which is this: If your beliefs are solely driven by opposition to people you hate, your rationality and logic — and shortly thereafter, your credibility — will suffer horribly for it.
Schumer’s constituents might not get that. The rest of the country will. If this is the best he can do, he’ll be the leader of an even smaller Senate minority after the next election.
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